Monday, December 30, 2013

To Honor

What a year it has been, and it has been no easy task thinking of a topic with which to close it out. Yesterday morning in mass, it hit me. One line struck me and rang a familiar tune - one of painful hilarity. In essence, we are to honor those around us. In fact, if we honor our fathers, our prayers will be answered. I had to chuckle for private reasons, and it made me think. Then, last night on television was the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual gala to highlight the lifetime achievements of individuals in the performing arts. Surely the two incidents were meant to coincide for some reason.

Washington Monument
When we honor, we exercise humility. We celebrate value in someone else by placing them above us and respecting something very distinct about them. However, honor is not simply a thought or a feeling, it is a decision and a course of action. Parents are special people who act on a duty that is to dedicate their lives to their children, but there are many people who have many different roles in the world and are also deserving of honor. Whom do we honor, and why... and how? These are important questions, and they should not be reserved for Mothers Day, Veterans Day, funerals, or birthdays. The example from the biblical message is important, because anyone, in theory, can fit into both the categories of parent and child in their lifetime. The point is that we all must have reverence and duty in order to be revered and distinguished. It is a cycle that continues for a lifetime.

Brother Shamus at the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center
I have had the privilege to not only visit the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, but I had a private tour with my mom, my good friend Rich and his band played there, and I can be found dancing in the audience of a Creole band in the archives of the memorial. The Kennedy Center is the presidential monument that is a living showcase for the performing arts. It exists to elevate unknown talents and provide them a stage with free performances every day of the year as well as to bring in the well-established musicians, actors, and dancers to celebrate their accomplishments. This place is an ode to artistry, and it honors the nobody as well as the star.

First Meal in My Empty DC Apartment
We may think that we do not have the occasion to truly recognize with any effect the greatest among us, however we all have plenty of opportunities to elevate those around us, make good on our duties to our relationships, and live lives worthy of honor. Many times we achieve this through persistence, yet other times it is by letting go. We honor with our promises, our integrity, and by our own example for those who follow. It is not necessary to have a great ceremony or special occasion to honor others; we simply have to put forth the effort to fulfill our duties - to our parents, to our friends, to ourselves, and to the world. It may be a long-term dedication, or it may be a phone call or an invitation out to lunch. All it takes is to place others above ourselves - selfless giving - and we honor those who receive the kindness and indeed those who came before us. What if that was our resolution for the new year?

Goodbye 2013.

2012 Blue Mass Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement

"God sets a father in honor over his children; mother's authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother."
-Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 

Brother Shamus at Kennedy Center (Jan 16, 2010)

Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas at Kennedy Center (Oct 15, 2012)
*I'm in the audience

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